It’s no secret that Friends became popular with modern viewers who weren’t even born when the show began airing on NBC in 1994.
Now a mother is going viral as she re-watches the sitcom with her daughter and shares the plot points and tropes she had to explain to the 14-year-old.
Screenwriter and Creative Director Rebecca Makkai tweeted over the weekend she had started a “Friends” marathon with her daughter.
“We are in season 2,” she wrote. “Here’s a running, but incomplete, list of all the things I needed to explain to him.”
Makkai had to explain the 20th century practice of printing photographs of missing children on milk cartons, she tweeted. She also had to tell her daughter the identities of Demi Moore, Joan Collins and Hank Azaria.
His daughter had also never heard the terms “bribe” as in a social gathering, “closure” as in the over end of a relationship, or “big rack” as in an aesthetic body part, he said. she tweeted.
The communication technology of the 1990s was also a hot topic. Little did her daughter know that “people used to memorize each other’s phone numbers,” she wrote, and “you could call your own answering machine to get your messages.”
Makkai enlisted the help of his followers to explain the difference between a “pager” and a “beeper”. Even Twitter couldn’t figure this one out. An user wrote, “the pager just beeped and the pager could show you numbers and text? I think that was the main difference.” But others insisted it was the same device, called different names.
Some of the tropes Makkai had to explain to her daughter still exist today, she wrote. As to why she needed to explain things that still exist, like secretaries answering office phones, she speculated“Maybe young COVID teens aren’t big on hickeys or work culture in the office?”
Makkai also marveled at how “marrying someone you didn’t like for a green card” was such a popular trope on ’80s and ’90s television.
Sexism and homophobia in ‘Friends’
Some Twitter users who stumbled upon Makkai’s thread expressed hope that she was telling her daughter about parts of Friends which are more controversial.
“Yes, of course we are talking about homophobia, fat-shaming, whitewashing and sexism,” Makkai said. responded.
While Friends Full of examples of outdated technology and social norms, fans often point out offensive jokes and plot points that wouldn’t fly today.
When Friends: Reunion airing on HBOMax in June 2021, it reignited conversations about the show’s lack of diversity. Special director Ben Winston even weighed in to defend the show.
“Casting is casting,” he said at the time. “It was made in 1994. I think it’s remarkable how well it stands the test of time.”
The special also included cameos from BTS, Malala Yousafzai and Mindy Kaling, he pointed out, as well as “three women from Ghana, one who talks about how Friends saved his life.”
Twitter users still couldn’t help but point out the show’s racial homogeneity in response to Makkai’s re-vision.
“A big point for this convo is how the show itself whitewashed,” one wrote. “[If] it was not for To live alone we would not have Friends. But once Friends went out and made it, he drove To live alone off the air.”
The show is also the subject of complaints of sexism. Another user said her teenage daughter noticed “how dominant Ross is over Rachel” in a new watch. “He’s impatient, bossy, demeaning and demanding…lots of dishonest, toxic masculinity. I felt confused that I hadn’t seen that before.”
Others said the show contained examples of transphobia. Chandler Bing’s character’s father is a transgender woman named Helena, whom Chandler calls Charles.
Kathleen Turner, the actress who played Helena, admitted in an interview with The Gay Times that these parts of the show hadn’t “aged well”.
“It was a 30-minute sitcom,” Turner said. “It became a phenomenon, but no one ever took it seriously as a social commentary.”